All posts tagged: photography

Santiago nights: Leonora Vicuña’s lyrical work

Chilean photographer Leonora Vicuña (b.1952) creates timeless, lyrical images that capture nightlife in her native Santiago as well as in Paris and Barcelona. Her photos immortalize these nocturnal scenes, giving us a rich array of bohemian characters, including musicians, waiters, transvestites and vagabonds. During the dictatorship of General Pinochet in the 1970s and ‘80s, Vicuña spent some years living and working in France. She was one of the founders of the AFI, the first association of professional independent photographers in Chile, which fought for the restoration of democracy in the 1980s. Vicuña, who is also a Professor of Photography in Santiago, has been employing colour pigments and pencils on the surface of her silver gelatin prints since the late 1970s to bring her images of popular culture to life. In this way, she is able to add a personal touch to the images and recall the atmosphere of the original scene. The photos are a nostalgic, personal interpretation of everyday activities – playing cards, dancing, having a drink at a tapas bar – that take …

Conflict remembered: Jo Ractliffe’s photos of Angola and South Africa

African photography is under the spotlight at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a moving exhibition of work produced in the last decade by the South African photographer Jo Ractliffe. South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (born 1961) explores the themes of conflict, history, memory and displacement with her camera. She has described her work as an attempt to “retrieve a place for memory.” Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. She completed her BAFA and MFA degrees at the University of Cape Town. Three recent series of photographs are featured in this show, focusing on recent conflict in her native South Africa and neighbouring Angola. Her earliest series Terreno Ocupado (2007–8) was produced around five years after the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), during Ractliffe’s first visit to the capital, Luanda. Her images of shantytowns speak of struggle and land occupation, highlighting the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure post civil war. Her photographs highlight the imprint that the Portuguese colonial occupation of Angola had on Luanda. …

The Belgian engineer who captured the lives of Chile’s remote Mapuche

The Belgian engineer Gustave Verniory (1865-1949) arrived in Chile at the end of the 19th Century to build a railway in the remote region of Araucanía, in the mid-south of the country. The region, occupied by indigeneous Mapuche tribes, had not become part of Chile until the 1880s. Verniory came to know a group of Mapuche people, and he began to photograph them, in their everyday attire. He also captured images of the railway’s construction and other viaducts and bridges that had been built as the Chilean government drove modernization of Chile’s remoter regions. His photos document an interesting time in the history of the province when industrialization was rapidly changing the lives of the Mapuche. The government had occupied Araucania in the 1880s to end the resistance of Mapuche tribes. Subsequently European and Chileans settled in the area, with the population of Araucania growing considerably in the early 20th Century. A region of mountains and lakes and fertile agricultural land, it came to be known as the “granary of Chile.” Around one third of …

The intimacy of colour: Australian hand-coloured photos from the 70s

The 1970s saw a revival in hand-coloured photography in Australia, and the technique remains a significant aspect of the practice of many artists today. The hand-colouring of photographs enables an artist to personalize and individualize a print , as well as imbue it with warmth and intimacy. Australian artists like Ruth Maddison, Miriam Stannage, Micky Allan and Robyn Stacey revived the technique of hand-colouring photographs. They were recently on show at the National Gallery of Australia in Sydney, as part of the Colour my world: hand-coloured Australian photography exhibition. The hand-colouring of images goes back a long way in the history of photography. In the mid-19th Century, when photography was still a nascent art form, artists applied paint, dye or other media to black and white images. Hand-colouring would be used either to add aesthetic or economic value to an image, or to correct a photographic mistake. In the early 20th Century the practice declined as modernist artists sought greater technical purity. To continue reading, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for …

Sensual in the Soviet Union: Nikolai Bakharev’s stunning photos of bathers

Russian photographer Nikolai Bakharev originally trained as a mechanic before working as a Communal Services Factory photographer in the 1960s. His arresting photographs of bathers were taken during the 1980s and 1990s when photographing nudity was strictly prohibited in the Soviet Union. In this way, these images of bathers on public beaches in Russia blur the boundaries between the public and private, and create a tension between public posing and private activity. From under a conservative exterior, a furtive eroticism emerges. To continue reading this article, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for the Kurios App on your mobile device. Photo credit: Nikolai Bakharev, No .14, from the series Relation, 1980. Gelatin Silver print ©MAMM, Moscow / Nikolai Bakharev Collection of the Moscow House of Photography Museum.

Capturing West Africa’s elite: the photography of a different era

A new exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa, presents over a century of portrait photography in West Africa. Many of these works, which were taken between the 1870s and the 1970s, are being displayed for the first time. There’s a broad selection of images on show, including postcards and original negatives as well as conventional photographs. The choice of photographers is similarly broad, taking in both amateur and professional photographers who captured life in Senegal, Mali, Gabon and Cameroon, among others. What is interesting about these photographs is that they present us with an image of Africa that is seldom recognized – it is often presumed that photographs of Africa from earlier eras were taken by foreign photographers. West Africa, where photography arrived in the 1840s, became a booming photography centre on its own terms. In other words, photographic production was not controlled just by foreigners – rather it was adapted by locals to their own traditions and aesthetic preferences. European and …

Double take

The pioneering Argentine photographer and filmmaker Horacio Coppola (1906-2012) was a key Modernist figure. He was one of ten siblings born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires at a time when photography was only an emerging art form. He travelled to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, where his early experiments with photography began to take on a Surrealist edge. Coppola is the subject of a new retrospective at New York’s MOMA, alongside his wife German-born Grete Stern, also an artist. Coppola enjoyed walking the streets of London, waiting for moments of Surrealist uncanniness to appear. In this photo, taken in London in 1934, clothes and shoes for sale outside a shop swing in the wind, giving the strange sensation that they are being worn. In another photo in the exhibition, also taken in London in 1934, he photographed a display of various antiques at a flea market in the city, including the reflections of passers-by in the mirrors. Viewed more closely, the reflection of a sculptural bust can be seen in the mirror too, …